The week of Thanksgiving has become a hard week for me. We moved away from my family seven years ago, and we haven’t celebrated a holiday with them since, until last year some of them, including my parents, came to my house, and it meant the world to me. Food holidays are an especially big deal because food is love in my family. Making the Thanksgiving meal with my mom is a huge part of my Thanksgiving memories, and it makes me ache for them when it’s time to prep the meal. I feel farther from them than ever.
This year we used the Marco Polo app to send each other video messages and talk to each other while we cooked. “Does the dressing look moist enough? How big is your turkey this year?” Our family celebrated alone this year, so it was especially nice to be able to connect to them as they gathered around my parents’ 24-seater table. The cousins had fun sending each other messages, too.
I am so blessed, and have so much to be thankful for. Focusing on that is the only way I’ve come up with to combat the homesickness. I involve my kids in the Thanksgiving meal prep in hopes of creating the same connection and memories I had. Even when my mom and I haven’t seen eye to eye on anything else, we can always connect through food, and feeding our family delicious mouthfuls of love. So here are seven things I’m thankful for.
I’m thankful that I didn’t have to deal with what I call Nutcracker Nightmare Week. The last two years two of my daughters performed in the Nutcracker, which was beautiful and they loved it and it nearly cost me my health and sanity every time. We switched studios this year because they prefer more jazz than ballet, and a side benefit is I didn’t have to take all 6 of my kids to a town 40 minutes away every day for a week and entertain them for six hours while we go to and from dress rehearsals delivering and retrieving the two girls (who never needed to be there at the same time) for their various times, feeding them all in between, having all the other kids miss all their sports because there was no way to make it back to our town, and nearly collapsing in sheer exhaustion. Then there were 6 performances in 3 days, the requisite ticket sales, and the volunteering on various committees. Like I said, the performances were always spectacular, but it was nearly the death of me every year. It always happened the week before Thanksgiving, and last year right before having a house full of company. This year, if I had had to do it, I would have lost. my. mind. My oldest is asking how she can be in it again next year and I’m crossing my fingers she forgets, because I thoroughly enjoyed NOT doing it.
I’m thankful for our abundance. Have you ever lived in a third-world country? I have. Brazil is technically a second-world country, and some parts are definitely first-world, but where I lived was third-world. I knew many, many families without running water or electricity. They shared a water pump with the neighbors, took cold bucket baths (and so did I for a few months. Outside.), never ate anything other than beans and rice, had dirty, untreated, contaminated water, and only one meal a day. They had two outfits that they treasured and cared for like they were Chanel, maybe one toy, and were literally dirt-floor poor. And you know what? They were HAPPY. Because no one ever told them they shouldn’t be happy. Because they found joy in their daily lives. Because they worked hard. Because they loved their families and friends. They were generous, always offering the best of what they had to anyone who visited. They were kind. They were grateful. They are some of the greatest people I’ve ever known.
For the first time in many, many years, I can say I’m thankful for my health. I went through many doctors, who (most of them) gave me the best of their knowledge and care. I’ve tried every protocol, dietary change, and voodoo I could find. I researched, read, asked questions and finally found someone who could help me. In the last year I have seen dramatic improvement in my health. I can eat food! I can get out of the chair and function! My depression is gone! My hormones are (nearly) balanced. My adrenals are functioning. My liver is getting the support it needs. I’m no longer borderline diabetic. I’m getting more sleep. I can participate in my family. There are still some tweaks to make, but I have come so far, and I am so grateful to be able to live life.
I am thankful for my husband who loves me, supports me, encourages me, stands by me, is patient with me (and, oh, do I need a patient man), and is an all around rockstar. He is an incredible man, an awesome dad, a hard worker, a human calculator, and the reason we have any fun at all around here. He keeps me sane and balanced, and is every bit the parent that I am. He is involved in every part of this family. He’s my best friend, and I would never make it without him. He chose me. I chose him. I waited until I found THE GUY who would be all these things, and he was worth the wait.
I am thankful for my children. My husband and I went through several years of infertility and miscarriages. No doctor could tell us what was wrong, so we didn’t know what to try to fix. We ended up taking a break because my heart couldn’t take another loss. When I eventually felt ready to try, we were suddenly pregnant with triplets! I was terrified of another loss. It was an extremely difficult and dangerous pregnancy that almost cost me my life. They were born at 31 weeks, and were basically feeders and growers. We’ve been trying to keep up with them since. When they were 6 months old we both felt very strongly impressed that it was time to start trying again. Who does that? The thought I had was that it might take a few more years to get pregnant again. Nope. It took 2 months. And then less than two years after number 4, we had number 5 (which started out as number 5 and 6, but we lost one). Five kids in 3 years. I gave birth to a preschool. That’s not normal, folks. We took a couple years off because my body was really struggling, and then we had number 6, and our family was complete. Also, my doctor tied my tubes right then and there because if I had gone into labor I would have died. So for real, no more kids. We sacrificed a lot to have our family. It has cost me my health (see above), nearly cost me my life twice, damaged my body in serious ways (not just cosmetically), and it has occasionally cost me my sanity, but that makes me appreciate them more, especially during the hard times. And there are plenty of hard times. They are worth all of it and more. I am very aware that many women who would give anything to be mothers never get the blessings I have, and I don’t take it for granted.
The kids got up Wednesday morning and were dying to start Thanksgiving dinner. They made the cornbread, toasted the toast, and finished the dressing most of the way (I diced the onions and celery and oversaw measuring the herbs). They made the strawberry cake and frosting, the corn pudding, the strawberry banana pineapple jello salad, and more unassisted! They did so great! All those years cooking together and teaching them to read recipes has paid off. I have my very own army of chefs.
I am grateful to live in this great nation where we have freedoms, opportunity, and rights. We often take it for granted. If you’ve never lived somewhere this isn’t the case, it’s hard to appreciate it sometimes. Remember that We the People make it great, even if the world’s oldest toddler is sitting in the big chair. We have a voice, we create change, we are the power behind this country, and we make it what it is. I’m grateful to all those who sacrificed and dreamed and came to this country to build something better, and to be free, especially my own ancestors. What they did was brave and hard and cost many of them their lives.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with people you love! What are you thankful for?
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